Israeli policemen secure the scene of the shooting attack at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City July 14, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS/AMMAR AWAD)
Strange as it may seem, the current rioting by Arabs in Jerusalem may be a blessing in disguise.
First, it will force the government to assert its sovereign authority over the Temple Mount.
Second, it exposes the absurdity of allowing the Jordanian government and the Wakf to exercise sole authority on the Mount, rather than over specific sites, such as the Aksa Mosque and Dome of the Rock.
Third, it refutes delusional suggestions that Israel “share sovereignty” and relinquish valuable tangibles (Jewish holy sites, land and communities) for worthless intangibles (diplomatic relations and economic agreements).
Judaism’s holiest site, the Temple Mount, not the Western Wall, should be a symbol of tolerance and holiness, not a place to accommodate Muslim bigotry, hatred and incitement. To avoid friction, non-Muslims are allowed to enter only through one gate, which has a metal detector and is strictly controlled to prevent Jews from carrying any Jewish items; all other gates are designated for Muslims only and only now have security controls.
Since metal detectors are standard throughout the world, including mosques, why is the Temple Mount different? Muslim authorities and Arabs focus on metal detectors at the gates to the Temple Mount because they are symbols of Israeli and Jewish sovereignty – a clear statement about who is in charge, who sets the rules and enforces them.
This is the essence of the struggle. It also explains why Arabs won’t recognize Israel as the “nation state of the Jewish People,” and why UNESCO and other UN bodies vote against Israel.
The government of Israel, moreover, created this confusion by prohibiting Jews from praying on the Mount and allowing the Wakf to run the site as they want, desecrating and destroying Jewish antiquities – as documented by archeologists from around the world – and harassing non-Muslim visitors.
Neither side wants to back down – for that would mean ideological/theological defeat. But neither side can allow the chaos to continue. Ultimately the authority and sovereignty of the state must prevail, for the alternative is mob rule and disaster.
Paradoxically, the current unrest may be a necessary (though painful) step toward clarity and reality. It was no different when Arabs attacked Israel in 1948 and 1967, in 1996 (when Arabs rioted over the opening of the Western Wall tunnel into the Muslim Quarter), and in 2000 (when Palestinian terrorism, the second intifada, erupted). When provoked, Israel will fight back, and win.
By creating this crisis, Arab and Muslim leaders challenge the fundamental powers and obligations upon which all states rest: control over their territory and borders, enforcing their laws and protecting their residents and guests. If the government appears weak, it will only encourage further violence and undermine its claim of sovereignty.
The question is not if Israel will win this confrontation – it will – but if the Temple Mount will continue to be disgraced as a political football. Nor is the goal to “return to the status quo.” The Temple Mount should be respected as a sacred place where anyone can worship God.
This is an opportunity to establish a new, equitable and reasonable status quo. Voila!